Touring the Chan SanSan Scenic Backway
32 Miles | 3 Days/2 Nights (Optional Days 4+5) | Gateway City: Jamestown, North Dakota
This beautifully scenic drive along the James River Valley highlights the winding river, tall grass prairie and an abundance of colorful wildflowers. The official route you’ll follow starts at Highway 46 and continues south through Adrian, Dickey, Grand Rapids and LaMoure to the intersection of the County Line Road.
We recommend starting your journey in Jamestown, spending two days exploring “Buffalo City,” which welcomes you with a towering 26′ buffalo named “Dakota Thunder.” Make sure to experience the Louis L’Amour Walking Tour and the Stutsman County Memorial Museum which is housed in the beautiful Lutz Mansion.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
The presence of buffalo on the Northern Plains was primarily responsible for the survival of the Native Americans and early settlers. They were used for food, hides for tipis, and clothing for defense against the frigid winters. Dedicated to preserving the heritage of the American buffalo, the North Dakota Buffalo Foundation built the museum to host art, artifacts, Native American items, a 10,000-year-old bison skull, a complete skeleton of bison antiqus (ancestor to the modern bison), the full body mount of White Cloud, Jamestown’s beloved albino (white) bison, and the Buffalo Hall of Fame. Plentiful interpretive panels tell the full story. After learning about them, see buffalo up close and personal in the herd that grazes behind the building.
The village surrounding the National Buffalo Museum brings the frontier prairie in North Dakota to life. Historic buildings here include writer Louis L’Amour’s cabin, an 1880 Northern Pacific Railroad Depot, a frontier school, church, and bank. All were relocated here and filled with antiques and artifacts. The Dakota Thunder Monument, a 26-foot-tall, 60-ton concrete buffalo stature stands guard. Also here, the J.A. Kirkpatrick Gallery showcases paintings and artwork depicting the wild west and plains, and a shop with North Dakota treasures and handmade goods from local artisans.
This stunning American Gothic-style church constructed in 1910, is one of only 60 minor basilicas in the U.S. The interior features beautiful stained-glass windows and a blue glazed ceiling.
The stately 1909 Beaux Arts style Courthouse features a front façade with four dramatic Corinthian columns, a metal-covered dome with bull’s eye windows topped with a ball finial, supported by an octagonal tower with columns and arched windows. The original leaded glass, woodwork, and hardware still surround the front entrance.
The historic walking tour of downtown Fargo includes the world class Plains Art Museum, 56,000 square feet of permanent and changing exhibits, spread out over four floors. Explore On Location in Rural America, Indian Country, the North Dakota Mural, and A Tall Grass Community. In addition to Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Native American art, collection offerings include Traditional African, Modern and Post Modern, Contemporary, Photography and Prints, Regional and Educational works.